Back in the early 90s, American Consumers were told eating Fat meant you would become well and I hate to use this term, you know the dreaded four letter f word… Fat. All foods were then touted for being fat free, foods such as Gummy Bears and bagels were now “good” because they had little to no fat, never mind the glycemic load or the sugar content. Fat was considered the problem and many of us, including yours truly, got a tad chubby during this phase.
Fat serves a few different purposes in food. It is naturally occurring in animal protein. For example, a skinless, boneless, roasted chicken breast is dry due to the lack of fat in the meat. Removing all fat from a baked good, can have a negative impact on how well the dry ingredients bind together. In a brownie, to replace all the fat with nonfat greek yogurt will create a chocolate goo that cannot hold its shape like a traditional brownie. Yes, it is fat free, but it is no longer a brownie. I am not sure what we could call it, but a brownie wouldn’t be an accurate term.
In recent years, we have learned that sugar and processed foods are a greater cause of concern in the modern diet than the f word Fat ever was. Sugar and Processed Foods are attributed for causing the Obesity, Heart Disease and Cancer epidemic. In every developing country, once these type of foods are introduced, in a few years the increase of obesity and diabetes goes from anecdotal to substantial, it takes a little longer for heart disease to present and then finally cancer. We are now learning about Functional Foods, another term for foods that bring health benefits besides the immediate ones of nutrition. Many of these are fruits and vegetables (see previous blogs and my Instagram posts for greater details ), but there are healthy fats that can be included in this select group.
Avocados are a personal favorite. I like to use them in smoothies, on salads or on toast. I have also used Avocados to make pudding and of course guacamole. The browning that happens when Avocados come in contact with oxygen can be a giant pain, but overall I still think it is great. Avocados also have more potassium than bananas and have a ton of fiber. Do not be scared to add it to your daily diet. It is calorically dense, but that is ok as long as we are aware when consuming. A recommended daily serving is 50 grams or 1 ounce for an average sized woman of 150 lbs.
Coconuts have been around forever, but in the last couple of years have become incredibly popular in the Wellness community. They aren’t just for making suntan lotion smell great any longer! I love Coconut flakes on top of fruit to add fat to slow down the absorption of the naturally occurring sugar in the morning, or I use Coconut flour or milk in my daily routine. Coconut Oil is great for cooking, and has a lower smoke point than olive oil. An article came out a few weeks ago, saying that Coconut Oil wasn’t as healthy as we thought, well it turns out that that like in all fats, portions do matter, so eating a ton wasn’t working long term for the study group. Nothing earth shattering there!! Coconut Oil can also be used for our skin or hair if we are out of beauty products and it helps our body to improve its ability to absorb important minerals. The recommended daily serving is 2 tablespoons or 30 ml for my metric fans.
When I was a kid, my grandmother threw Walnuts into baked goods and I would pick them out and put them to the side. Later on that day, she would sigh and eat them off of my plate. I am not sure if she knew all the nutritional reasons why they were so good for her, or is she just liked them. I try and incorporate them into my diet as eating as few as 4 Walnuts will help support health cholesterol levels. Easy ways I have found to eat Walnuts include, smoothies, baked goods, throwing Walnuts in a salad for a little extra crunch and dairy free ice cream. Like with all nuts, they are easily over consumed, so I try and keep portion control in mind with Walnuts.
The excitement many people felt when they heard Chocolate was good for them was significant, however that does not give us permission to do a deep dive into a river of Chocolate Milk. This is the deal with Chocolate, the actual substance meaning cacao has many heath benefits, but that means a small portion as will improve our health by lowering blood pressure and possibly helping to protect our skin from sun damage (still SPF up). Chocolate comes from cacao beans which are grown in Latin America. In their natural state the beans have a very bitter taste; therefore, during processing varying amounts of sugar are added depending on whether you want bittersweet chocolate or very sweet milk chocolate. I do not mean to burst everyone’s fantasies of having a limitless amount of Hershey’s Kisses and calling it a health measure, but a small piece of dark Chocolate savored is a good thing on many levels. A recommended daily serving is 10 grams.
Eggs were once considered public enemy number 1, or at least the yolks were. Public and some medical opinion blamed them for all of America’s health issues, when it turns out they were not to blame. In fact, ounce for ounce Eggs are usually the most complete protein available at any given restaurant or market and the least expensive. I strongly recommend my clients eat Eggs when they are tired and do not know what to eat after a long day. If you want to go fancy, make up a frittata or a quiche, old school, go for poached or scrambled. They travel well and can done in advance. A recommended serving is up to 3 eggs per day. So egg away!!
Fat keeps us full and a bunch of other things we want in our bodies. I try for a 40 carbs/40 fat/30 protein mix of macronutrients. I used to be a horrible snacker, the type that would snack aka graze from 4-10 most days. I had to experiment with what worked for me, and having more fat in my diet works best, but the right kind of fat is crucial. Healthy fat such as coconut sprinkled onto my morning fruit vs a donut for an example of what kind of fat I am reaching for on a daily basis.
I hoped this gave you some ideas of ways to incorporate healthy fat into your current food plan. Being scared of fat is so 1990s and will only lead to problems with blood sugar control short term and long term issues such as diabetes and obesity.
If you have any questions or comments, please shoot me an email or leave me a comment on the website.